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Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis).—Alan Carey
Any of many small to medium-sized, diurnal birds of prey, particularly those in the genus Accipiter. The term is often applied to other birds in the Accipitridae family (including buzzards, harriers, and kites) and sometimes to certain falcons. Hawks usually eat small mammals, reptiles, and insects but occasionally kill birds. There is often no difference in plumage between sexes. Hawks are found on the six major continents. Most nest in trees, but some nest on the ground or on cliffs. True hawks (accipiters) can usually be distinguished in flight by their long tails and short, rounded wings. They are exemplified by the 12-in (30-cm) sharp-shinned hawk (A. striatus), gray above with fine rusty barring below, found throughout much of the New World. See alsogoshawk, sparrow hawk.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on hawk, visit Britannica.com.